Saturday, November 21, 2009

Is ADHD Caused by Insufficient Dietary Fat?

Over the last few decades, there has been an alarming increase in the incidence of several syndromes that affect both the physical and mental health of children and adults, especially in the United States. These include the obesity epidemic and metabolic syndrome, the alarming rise in the incidence of autism, the steady increase in food allergies among children, and the rise in the new brain disease termed "attention deficit hyperactivity disorder." To understand what might be causing these conditions, we need to look for substantial changes in lifestyle that have occurred between the last forty years and the previous forty years.

Two lifestyle changes that occurred almost simultaneously in the late 1970's are the practices of avoiding dietary fat and avoiding sun exposure. These practices have since gained a persistent strong endorsement by our government and medical experts, which has led to the almost unshakable belief across our population that avoiding dietary fat and sun exposure are healthy choices. I believe that these practices are in fact unhealthy, and are the underlying causes of the above mentioned diseases.

While people mistakenly believe that eating fat will lead to obesity, I have come to believe the exact opposite: that not eating enough fat can lead to obesity. I have elaborated on my arguments in a recent blog post on the obesity epidemic, and associated metabolic syndrome in America, where I claim that nutritional deficiencies in vitamin D, calcium, and dietary fats can account for most of the symptoms associated with metabolic syndrome. Previously, I developed an argument that the alarming rise in the incidence of Fat Kid autism in America may also be attributable to maternal deficiencies in these key nutrients, especially when the pregnant mother is sufficiently disciplined to remain thin despite strong temptations to eat. In this essay, I will develop a theory that Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), a disease that barely existed before the 1970's, but is now steadily increasing in incidence rates in the United States, is also likely caused by inadequate dietary fats, with a possible contributory role played by vitamin D deficiency.

The American medical establishment continues to aggressively promote low fat diet, while Americans continue to grow in size and the autism epidemic keeps getting worse. By avoiding fats, Americans instead tend to eat an excessive amount of high-glycemic index carbs -- highly processed foods that digest very quickly and cause the blood sugar level to spike. This eventually leads to insulin resistance and type-II diabetes. Meanwhile, insufficient fat in the diet results in an unstable supply of fuel to the heart and fat resources to the brain. The brain utilizes only glucose for fuel, but fatty acids are essential to construct its neural connections.

In this essay, I am going to develop a theory that the rise of ADHD in America is a direct consequence of fat avoidance and sun avoidance. My theory explains many observations that have been made about ADHD, including:

-- Why ADHD is much more prevalent in boys than in girls,
-- Why ADHD children tend to have stunted growth,
-- Why ADHD children suffer from sleep disorders,
-- Why ADHD children are hyperactive,
-- Why Ritalin alleviates the symptoms.

I will also explain why I think that the widespread practice of drugging children with Ritalin, while clearly effective in promoting learning in the short term, is leading to a number of looming crises down the road, including drug abuse among non-ADHD children, and serious health issues later in life, such as heart disease and Parkinson's disease.


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